Sullivan said the point of Shootout for Soldiers Boston isn’t the money raised, but rather bringing the lacrosse community together and offering educational resources to veterans of the armed services. It helps, too, he said, that some “pretty cool” stories come out of the day.
“We start with the veterans game, and last year we had three Vietnam vets, one guy who brought his old bucket helmet and wooden stick with him,” Sullivan said. “It looked like he was stepping out of a history book. The goalie on my team lost his leg in Afghanistan in 2012, so he's out there playing with a prosthetic limb.”
Stories aside, partners and fellow organizers say that Sullivan truly is the lifeblood of Shootout for Soldiers Boston.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Kevin Barney, the vice president and general manager of the Cannons. For this year’s event, the Cannons are expected to send Josh Hawkins and several other players to guest coach and interact with fans.
“The event itself is something the Cannons saw as a great way for us to support our military veterans on a national and local level,” Barney said. “It’s a unique event and great opportunity and something we’re happy to get behind. Then when Mike Sullivan took over, it made it easier. A great guy who’s supportive of us and we obviously wanted to return that and support something he’s very passionate about.”
Steinhardt went a step further, saying Sullivan has grabbed the event by the horns and “just run with it” the last few years.
“If you look at a Venn diagram of people who love lacrosse and work in the military, Sully fits exactly in the middle,” Steinhardt said. “He’s a guy who cares deeply about both. It comes from a place of genuine care and authenticity that really drives the event. It’s what fueled Boston to grow so rapidly.”